Aug 8, 2013, 12:25 PM PDT
The ball launched off Barry Bonds’ bat and cut through the thick nighttime Bay Area air. Knowing he got all of it, Bonds raised his arms, meanwhile, pitcher Mike Bacsik didn’t even bother to turn and watch. As the ball cleared the right-center field fence, history was made, rampant debate and speculation was vigorously thrown about, and a sell-out crowd and millions watching around the world all reacted in their own ways. Whether they thought the milestone moment in baseball history should be heralded or hidden from the record books — they were watching.
On this week in Bay Area sports history, Bonds hit his 756th home run and was figuratively crowned as Major League Baseball’s home run king.
It happened on August 7, 2007 at AT&T Park in San Francisco against the Washington Nationals. The fifth-inning blast gave the Giants a 5-4 lead, but the game itself briefly took a backseat to the moment. The Giants actually ended up losing 8-6.
Bonds rounded the bases and hugged his son, Nikolai, a Giants bat boy at the time, and a message was played on the big screen from Hank Aaron, who previously held the record with 755 homers.
“I move over and offer my best wishes to Barry and his family on this historical achievement,” Aaron said on the screen. “My hope today, as it was on that April evening in 1974, is that the achievement of this record will inspire others to chase their own dreams.”
Aaron wasn’t present, nor was MLB commissioner Bud Selig. If Twitter was present at the time, the word “asterisk” might have been trending.
“This record is not tainted at all, at all,” Bonds said in his post game press conference. “Period. You guys can say whatever you want.”
The historic home run ball created a frenzy in the crowd and was retrieved by Matt Murphy, a 21-year-old student from New York. He sold the ball for $752,467 to fashion designer Mark Ecko, who had an asterisk carved into the ball before donating it to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Earlier this year, a commemorative plaque located in right field near where the 756th home run ball landed made headlines when it mysteriously disappeared.
It was eventually replaced with a new one.
Both Bonds and Bacsik were out of the big leagues by the 2008 season. Bonds wasn’t the only controversial figure that day, as Bacsik was widely accused of purposely grooving a 3-2 fastball to be a part of history.
“I’m part of a special moment that will never be forgotten,” Bacsik told reporters. “I’m going to be the guy who gave it up.”
Ironically, Mike Bacsik, Sr. faced Hank Aaron on July 9, 1976, when he had 754 home runs, but didn’t allow the 755th.
Whether you loved or hated Barry Bonds, he had a way of making you leap from your seat when he made contact with a baseball. He finished his career with 762 home runs, and seven MVP awards. He never won a World Series ring. He was placed on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year, and only received 36.2 percent of the vote, which was well short of the 75 percent needed to get in.
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